I was listening to a book today and it was using Rip van Winkle as an example. And I began to think about the story of Rip van Winkle and the message it conveys. The question I came to was this: Do I want to take full responsibility for that which I am responsible? Or would I prefer to sleep through my responsibilities and have them magically done for me? Poof! This may be obvious to everyone else, but for me it was a revelation and I enjoyed thinking about it.
Being Rip van Winkle as a Child
I know that as a child, if I had a bad day or got angry with someone, I would want to go to sleep with the hopes that everything would be better the next day. Like turning the page on life. “Let’s put this day to bed and wake up and it’ll be better. No, really!” This sounds all too common and normal, but then I realized what this tendency propagated—my irresponsibility.
I don’t know how many would want the ability to simply close their eyes and open them up again to a different and better reality, but I imagine it’s quite a few. Just think, with no responsible efforts on my part, I could have the power of blinking away and changing things. Don’t like your character, blink – you have a new one. Don’t like your attitude, blink – you have a new one. Want to have a better marriage, blink – you have a new one. Want to change your government, blink – you have a new one. This is all Rip van Winkle reality. No fuss, no muss, and no efforts towards taking responsibility for change – a Rip van Winkle philosophy to the hilt. Zzzzz!
Rip van Winkle – R.I.P
When I looked up the story of Rip van Winkle, I saw this, speaking of the men of Rip’s day: “Men wish they could have shared in Rip’s good luck and have the luxury of sleeping through the hardships of the American Revolution.” WOW! I don’t know if this is an obvious gleaning from the story, but Rip and R.I.P. (Rest in Peace) seem a little more closely related than at first glance. By suffering from the death of irresponsible sleep, we can have someone else do all our work for us. Yay?
This all is fascinating to me because it has many levels of truth. Maybe I was looking out the window in school or missed the lesson, but today I’m kind of fascinated with the whole story of Rip van Winkle. The reality is I can’t just close my eyes and blink it all away while expecting responsible change. It’s inevitable that if I bow out, someone else will usually have to do it for me, but this doesn’t propagate my responsible change. I change things when I take responsibility to work, not sleep. And I say this through the grid of Christ in me, not me. To truly rest in peace is to rest in Christ. In this way I’m not indulging irresponsibility but instead leaning on the responsible One.
Rip van Winkle Missing Life
Our world suffers from an epidemic of irresponsibility. Maybe it’s always been that way; Rip van Winkle was written in 1819, almost 200 years ago. But today so many people want true change without truly responsible work. And what better way to see this happen but to go to sleep and wake up with it all done for us! There’s a big problem with this Rip van Winkle lifestyle of irresponsibility. It robs us of experiencing joy in the process of living and seeing Christ’s Life lived through us.
On Friday, I wrote Jesus Lived in the Cloud – True Victorious Christianity. In light of that post, I know that successful living is Christ living my life. I have the responsibility to present my body to God as my reasonable act of worship and then Christ lives His Life through me. This is an act of my will; it is part of my work—the work of presenting my body and believing in the power of His resurrection life.
Living in the cloud of God’s glory is to experience God’s pleasure and manifest love. I know many who wish to evoke the presence of His glory because it feels good. When I resist the slumber of irresponsibility and do the WORK of presenting my body, I live in something so much more powerful than the numbness of sleep. It is the weight of His glory and the exhilaration of His Life and Will.